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New Negro

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The abolition of slavery in the United States presented southern African Americans with many new opportunities, including the option of relocation in search of better living conditions. The mass movement of black people from the rural areas of the South to the cities of the North, known as the Black Migration, came in the 1890s when black men and women left the south to settle in cities such as Philadelphia and New York, fleeing from the rise of Jim Crowe Laws and searching for work. This migration of blacks from the South has been an important factor in the formation of the Harlem Renaissance. The period referred to as the Harlem Renaissance, was a flourishing period of artistic and literary creation in African-American culture and helped birth the school of thought characterized by the "New Negroes" of the North.

The term “New Negro” transformed the stereotypical image of African Americans as ex-slaves that were ignorant and inferior, to a race of intellectuals who articulated their culture in writing, art, and music. The phrase “New Negro” was in use long before the Harlem Renaissance, but this school of thought was truly emphasized by Alain Locke in his book The New Negro: An Interpretation. The New Negro was put together for the purpose as described by Lock: "to document the New Negro culturally and socially, - to register the transformations of the inner and outer life of the Negro in America that have so significantly taken place in the last few years." It was felt that African Americans were eager to claim their own agency in culture and politics instead of just remaining a problem for the whites. The “New Negroes” included poets, novelists, and blues musicians creating their art out of their own African folk, heritage and history. There were also Black political leaders fighting the ongoing struggle of presenting opportunities for African Americans; along with businessmen working toward the possibilities of a "black metropolis"; and Garveyites dreaming of establishing a homeland in Africa. All of them shared a unified desire to shed the image of servitude and inferiority of the "Old Negro" and achieve a new image of pride and dignity for the revamped “New Negro”.

Migration has been one of the defining characteristics of black life and art in the United States since the first forced relocation of African slaves to America. Some of the other major movements include the Atlantic slave trade, the extension of slavery to the Mississippi Valley (1820-1850), the emancipation and escape of slaves to freedom in the North, the movement of free people of color from the South to the North and Canada, and the immigration of small numbers of black Americans to Africa. During and after the Civil War the emancipated black men and women moved north to secure their freedom. At that same time many northern freed black men went south as soldiers, and other men and women traveled south to teach in communal institutions. The Exoduster movement (1877 to 1881), during which forty thousand to seventy thousand African-Americans left the former slave states for Kansas was the first movement out of the South. Blacks, in protest against the loss of political rights, were in search of equality and opportunity in the West. Then and later, the "Talented Tenth": educated African-American leaders fled the rise of Jim Crow and moved north. Others considered emigration, but only a few ever returned to Africa. The single largest movement of African-Americans occurred during World War I when approximately 500,000 people moved from the rural and small-town South into the cities of the North and the Midwest. Dubbed the Great Migration, this



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